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HIV Support

Related Terms

Acquired Immunodeficiency SyndromeAIDSHuman Immunodeficiency Virus

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks part of the immune system. It can cause headache, fever, and body aches. It can also make it harder for your body to fight off illnesses.

It is managed with medicine. It can progress to AIDS without treatment. Natural therapies have been used to help manage symptoms from treatment. They should not be used instead of standard care.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

HIV and HIV treatment can cause high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and other fats in the blood. These options can help:

  • Dietary interventions are likely to lower triglyceride levels.E2
  • Omega-3 fatty acid is a healthy fat that is likely to lower triglyceride levels and total cholesterol.B6

May Be Effective

  • Capsaicin gives hot peppers their heat. It may ease chronic pain.B13
  • Cannabis is a plant that is also used as a drug. It may ease chronic pain.B8, B13
  • Colostrum-based food supplement —colostrum is the milky substance that mothers make in the first few days after birth. It may help ease diarrhea.B3
  • Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed for health. They may slow HIV.B5, B9, B11, B16
  • Spirulina is a green alga. It may lower total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Spirulina may also raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.B10
  • Omega-3 fatty acid may ease symptoms of depression.B12
  • Vitamin A may reduce morality in children.B14
  • Zinc is a mineral that may lower the risk of infection in adults and children.B4

Other therapies that may help are:

  • Acupuncture is the use of needles and trigger points. It may ease symptoms of stomach upset and HIV-related neuropathy.A1, A2
  • Massage therapy may improve quality of life.E1
  • Mindfulness practice is a meditative awareness practice. It may help ease side effects of treatment.C1-C3
  • Yoga is the use of breathing and poses. It may improve quality of life and lower blood pressure D1-D4

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Methionine B1
  • Moringa B15
  • Vitamin A B5

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or pills you are taking. Some may get in the way of your treatment or other health problems you may have.




A1. Chang BH, Sommers E. Acupuncture and the relaxation response for treating gastrointestinal symptoms in HIV patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy. Acupunct Med. 2011;29(3):180-187.

A2. Dimitrova A, Murchison C, et al. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):164-179.

B. Herbs and Supplements

B1. Van Brummelen R, du Toit D. L-methionine as immune supportive supplement: a clinical evaluation. 2007;33(1):157-163.

B2. Humphreys EH, Smith NA, et al. Prevention of diarrhoea in children with HIV infection or exposure to maternal HIV infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jun 16;(6):CD008563.

B3. Kaducu FO, Okia SA, et al. Effect of bovine colostrum-based food supplement in the treatment of HIV-associated diarrhea in Northern Uganda: a randomized controlled trial. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2011;30(6):270-276.

B4. Zeng L, Zhang L. Efficacy and safety of zinc supplementation for adults, children and pregnant women with HIV infection: systematic review. Trop Med Int Health. 2011 Dec;16(12):1474-82.

B5. Jiang S, He J, et al. The effect of multiple micronutrient supplementation on mortality and morbidity of HIV-infected adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2012;58(2):105-112.

B6. Stradling C, Chen YF, et al. The effects of dietary intervention on HIV dyslipidaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38121.

B7. Grobler L, Siegfried N, et al. Nutritional interventions for reducing morbidity and mortality in people with HIV. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Feb 28;(2):CD004536.

B8. Lutge EE, Gray A, et al. The medical use of cannabis for reducing morbidity and mortality in patients with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30;(4):CD005175.

B9. Irlam JH, Siegfried N, et al. Micronutrient supplementation for children with HIV infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 11;(10):CD010666.

B10. Ngo-Matip ME, Pieme CA, et al. Effects of Spirulina platensis supplementation on lipid profile in HIV-infected antiretroviral naïve patients in Yaounde-Cameroon: a randomized trial study. Lipids Health Dis. 2014;12:191.

B11. Carter GM, Indyk D, et al. Micronutrients in HIV: a Bayesian meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 1;10(4):e0120113.

B12. Ravi S, Khalili H, et al. Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids of Depressive Symptoms in HIV-Positive Individuals: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Ann Pharmacother. 2016;50(10:797-807.

B13. Merlin JS, Bulls HW, et al. Pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for chronic pain in individuals with HIV: a systematic review. AIDS Care. 2016 Dec;28(12):1506-1515.

B14. Wiysonge CS, Ndze VN, et al. Vitamin A supplements for reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;9:CD003648.

B15. Tshingani K, Donnen P, et al. Impact of Moringa oleifera Iam. Leaf powder supplementation versus nutritional counseling on the body mass index and immune response of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy: a single-blind randomized control trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):420.

B16. Visser ME, Durao S, et al. Micronutrient supplementation in adults with HIV infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 May 18;5:CD003650.

C. Mindfulness

C1. Duncan LG, Moskowitz JT, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for HIV treatment side effects: a randomized, wait-list controlled trial. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012;43(2):161-171.

C2. Scott-Sheldon LAJ, Balletto BL, et al. Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. AIDS Behav. 2019 Jan;23(1):60-75.

C3. Ramirez-Garcia MP, Gagnon MP, et al. Mind-body practices for people living with HIV: a systematic scoping review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Jun 11;19(1):125.

D. Yoga

D1. Cade WT, Reeds DN, et al. Yoga lifestyle intervention reduces blood pressure in HIV-infected adults with cardiovascular disease risk factors. HIV Med. 2010;11(6):379-388.

D2. Mawar N, Katendra T, et al. Sudarshan Kriya yoga improves quality of life in healthy people living with HIV (PLHIV): results from an open label randomized clinical trial. Indian J Med Res. 2015;141(1):90-99.

D3. Dunne EM, Balletto BL, et al. The benefits of yoga for people living with HIV/AIDS: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb;34:157-164.

D4. Ramirez-Garcia MP, Gagnon MP, et al. Mind-body practices for people living with HIV: a systematic scoping review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Jun 11;19(1):125.

E. Other Therapies

E1. Hillier SL, Louw Q, et al. Massage therapy for people with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD007502.

E2. Stradling C, Chen YF, et al. The effects of dietary intervention on HIV dyslipidaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38121.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/26/2020